Internet Wars in the Middle East and Iraq
The London Pan-Arab daily, Al-Sharq al-Awsat [“The Middle East”] reports in Arabic that sectarian guerrilla groups and militias in Iraq have enlisted hackers to take their struggle into the internet. These jihadi hackers attempt to break into the sites of their rivals and deface them or steal the data stored on their servers.
The website “Bint al-Rafedain” (Daughter of Mesopotamia) faced the third major attack on Friday aimed at shutting it down, launched by persons unknown. One of the site’s proprietors told SA, “This time, the destruction encompassed the mail of the city, as well, and the personal mail of its members.” This spokesperson added, “Terrorism targets free speech and awareness that strives to build our new Iraqi society on the basis of democracy and respect for opinions and for persons.”
Such attacks are launched every hour on Iraqi internet sites, according to a number of bloggers, who helped put al-Sharq al-Awsat in touch with some hackers. Among them is Bibu (Ibrahim) Arab, who trains a group of young persons in hacking, describing them as independent hackers. He explained that hacking sites is a relatively new phenomenon in Iraq and its impetus was the rise of sectarian conflict. He said that there are no effective sanctions against hacking in Iraq. Therefore, groups sought out hackers and paid them handsomely to attack rival sites, the ideas of which the groups disagreed.
Another hacker goes by “Hudhud Sulaiman” (the hoopoe of Solomon– the ancient prophet is said in Islamic lore to have known the language of the birds, and I take it the hackers are making an analogy to knowing code). Hudhud says that he learned how to be a hacker and gained vast experience when he visited a neighboring country (Iran? Turkey?) and then he came back to train others. He stresses that he is very well paid. He speculates that Iraqi hackers may be employed to attack sites in other countries, since, given Iraq’s chaotic security environment, it would be almost impossible to find them and punish them there.
That is, the US has created Iraq as a failed state from which internet terrorism may be launched with impunity. Lots of key systems in the US are vulnerable to hacking. Some terrorism specialists, such as Marc Sageman, are convinced that the internet is the next arena for jihadi terrorism. This article lends credence to his view.
Then the US Goverment Open Source Center has translated the following item from the Turkish press about plans for a massive online protest the organizers hope will attract a million participants.
‘ Turkey: Online Rally Being Organized To Protest US Middle East, Iraq Policy
Report: “Iraq Occupation to be Protested On Line”
– AA Anatolia
Ankara (A.A) – 31 Jan 2007 – DISK (Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions), KESK (Small Tradesmen and Artisans Confederation) and trade chambers are going to organize an on-line campaign to mark the fourth anniversary of the occupation of Iraq between 20 February and 20 March.
According to information received, the campaign, which is still being prepared, will be announced to democratic mass organizations and political parties in the days ahead and its program will be finalized.
The targets of the campaign have been identified as “protesting the occupation of Iraq” “protesting US Middle East policy” “protesting the AKP’s (Justice and Development Party) pro-US policies” and “stepping up the struggle for peace.”
A logo will be determined for the campaign, billboard posters, posters, flyers, pamphlets, brochures and stickers will be prepared, and briefing notes for the press and commercial spots will also be prepared.
In the campaign, which will emphasize that approximately 1 million people have lost their lives because of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, they will try to ensure the participation of 1 million people in the activities that are going to be held.
The campaign’s slogan has been determined as: “There is a voice saying stop to the occupation and fighting in Iraq at 2000 (Local) on 20 March (20M20), when the first bomb fell… Light a light.”
The work to be done nationwide and in the provinces will be run by the contributing organizations. Organizations can also conduct their own independent events. Among the joint activities planned are: forming a peace chain, peace festivities, pan and whistle protests at market places.
It is planned to announce the campaign to the public on 19 February 2007 with participation by party chairmen.
The campaign will see panels, open sessions and conferences arranged as well as meetings in coffee houses and work places.
The campaign will end with an event at 2000 (Local) on 20 March, when the United States began bombing Iraq. The event will take the form of switching off lights for 10 minutes, lighting candles and calling, “Stop the war.”
Rally Site The Internet
In addition to customary protest demonstrations the campaign will also apply the “e-rally” method.
The e-rally will be organized on the 20M20 website that is to be set up.
The rally comprises internet users visiting the site and staying there for a specific period of time and voicing their views on the occupation of Iraq using the means provided by the electronic environment.
The aim here is to increase participation in the event planned for 20 March and to provide moral support for the participants.
New Address For Protests
The first “digital” rally in Turkey took place in 1996 with the demand “Do not kill the internet.”
The online protests increased in parallel with the spread of the internet.
Today the internet is used to protest almost everything.
Among the groups that use the internet the most as a vehicle for their protests are anti-globalization groups.
Anti-globalization groups get together online, exchange views and set up large action organizations at various locations all over the world that tens of thousands of people from various countries participate in.
(Description of Source: Ankara Anatolia in Turkish — Semi-official news agency; independent in content) ‘